Starflight Rev 1
Starflight is a space exploration role-playing adventure video game developed by Binary Systems and published by Electronic Arts in 1986. Originally developed for DOS, it was later released for the Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh and Commodore 64. A fully revamped version of the game was developed for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991.
Identifier sg_Starflight_Rev_1_1991_Binary_Systems_Electronic_Arts_EU-US_enMediatype softwareScanner Internet Archive Python library 0.5.2Publicdate 2014-05-06 04:10:57Addeddate 2014-05-06 04:10:57Emulator_ext binEmulator genesisCreator Binary Systems/Electronic ArtsDate 1991Year 1991Backup_location ia905807_15Language English
Set in the year 4620, the game puts players in the role of a starship captain sent to explore the galaxy. There is no set path, allowing players to switch freely between mining, ship-to-ship combat, and alien diplomacy. The broader plot of the game emerges slowly, as the player discovers that an ancient race of beings is causing stars to flare and destroy all living creatures.
The game has been widely praised by both contemporary and modern critics, and is one of the earliest instances of a sandbox game. It led to the development of a sequel, Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula, and influenced the design of numerous other games for decades after its release.
The player begins inside a space station called Starport orbiting the planet Arth. Here they buy and sell minerals, Endurium, and artifacts, recruit and train crew members, and upgrade parts of the ship. The player hires a crew from five species to man the ship's six posts: navigator, science officer, engineer, communications officer, doctor, and captain. A crewman's proficiency is determined by the relevant skill: a science officer with a high science skill can determine more of a planet's properties and detect aliens at a greater range, for example. Skills are increased through training, which must be purchased. One crewman can man multiple posts, but different species have different maximum skill levels. The ship is initially equipped only with engines and a limited supply of Endurium, a type of crystal used as fuel. The ship can be modified and upgraded through the purchase of weapons, armor, and shields.
The goals of the game include exploration, collection of lifeforms and minerals, and finding habitable colony worlds. Eventually, a larger goal of finding out why stars in the region are flaring dangerously and stopping the process, if possible, comes to the forefront. The main sources of income are selling minerals, artifacts, and lifeforms and recommending planets for colonization. The ship is equipped with a Terrain Vehicle that the crew can use to look for minerals and life-forms. The most lucrative source of income is finding planets suitable for human life. If the science officer's analysis shows a planet to be within acceptable parameters, the player can have the captain log a planet for colonization.
Starflight has 270 star systems, each containing from zero to eight planets for a total of 800. All star systems can be entered and all planets landed on, though this destroys the ship if the gravity is greater than 8.0 g. The science officer can scan and analyze the planet for information about it, including its temperature, gravity, and chemical composition. When a landing is ordered, a Mercator projection map shows the topography of each planet, as well as a cursor to select a landing point. Once the ship lands, a Terrain Vehicle can be deployed to drive across the terrain, which is periodically scanned for new information, in search of minerals, lifeforms, and alien ruins. As is the case in outer space, a heads-up display monitors the Terrain Vehicle's status.
Space is also crisscrossed with continuum fluxes, coordinate pairs that allow instantaneous travel between them without consuming fuel. Travel via fluxes cuts down significantly on fuel costs and travel time, though it causes all but the most accomplished navigators to lose their bearings.
Aliens may be cautious, friendly, or hostile, and all have distinctive speech patterns; the player can influence alien reactions by arming weapons and shields or hailing the aliens with varying communication styles. Alien ships can be also scanned for information. Combat involves maneuvering the ship and firing weapons, either instantly damaging short range lasers or avoidable, but more powerful long range missiles. The weapon used depends on how far away enemy ships are and what the player's ship is armed with. The player's ship has ablative armor and regenerative shields, and can take damage to its hull and individual components.
The galaxy is composed of eight space-faring races, five of which can be hired as part of the player's crew. Humans only exist on Arth and are not found among the stars. Other species include Veloxi, large insects who demand bribes from ships which violate their space; Mechan, androids left over from the days of the Old Empire; Elowan, a pacifistic race of sentient plants; Thrynn, reptile creatures who are primarily interested in money; Spemin, gelatinous blobs who are known for their cowardice; Gazurtoid, octopus-like religious zealots who regard all "air-breathers" as infidels; and Uhlek, a destructive fleet of ships with a hive mind. Humor also plays a role within Starflight.
Critical response to the game at the time of its release was extremely positive. Game reviewers Hartley and Patricia Lesser complimented the game in their "The Role of Computers" column in the December 1986 issue of Dragon, calling it "stunning in its presentation and play". In 1986 and 1987, Computer Gaming World declared it "the best space exploration game in years" and "the best science fiction game available on computer". The magazine named Starflight as its Adventure Game of the Year for 1987, and in August 1988, it joined the magazine's Hall of Fame for games highly rated over time by readers, with the third-highest rating for action/adventure games on the list, and the fourth-highest overall. Science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle named Starflight his game of the month for January 1987, and fellow science fiction writer Orson Scott Card wrote, "Starflight is the first science fiction computer game that actually gives you something of the experience of roaming through the galaxy. ... I have found this game obsessively fascinating—and the graphics and player interface are superb". He called it the "Star Wars of science fiction games ... the standard against which all other space-exploration games must be measured". Compute! listed it in May 1988 as one of "Our Favorite Games", stating that "Starflight captures the feel of a certain type of science fiction ... the game can take hundreds of hours to play fully, yet those hours are anything but boring".
By December 1987, the game had sold over 100,000 copies, and it eventually went on to sell over a million copies. Ybarra said at the time that the game had created a "beachhead in the arena of sci-fi" for Electronic Arts. Lee said in 2010, "I knew it was a classic while we were building it". Starflight was one of the earliest games to use procedurally generated content for its planets and everything on them. The techniques used created a type of roguelike environment on each planet, with the contents randomly distributed. The story network was also one of the earliest examples of a sandbox game design.